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Lancia to Live On

Reports of Italian brand’s death somewhat exaggerated.

by on Nov.08, 2012

The Chrysler 300 is being sold as the flagship Lancia Thema in Europe.

Euro-American automaker Fiat/Chrysler will sharply pare back but not kill off its long-troubled Lancia brand, company officials clarified, countering recent reports that the marque would soon vanish due to Fiat’s financial problems.

But, in many ways, the “new” Lancia will be a mostly American brand despite its Italian name and heritage.

“Lancia’s lifeline will be Chrysler,” explains analyst Jim Hall, of 2953 Analytics.

Get a Free Subscription! was one of many media outlets to interpret comments made by Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne to imply Lancia would be eliminated. The brand has suffered years of declining sales despite the addition of new models and the financial strain was worsening just as Fiat has had to deal with the decline of European automotive sales. The collapse has been especially severe in its home Italian market.


Chrysler Won’t Return to “Old Days of Sin,” Insists CEO Marchionne

Global realignment coming, no big-buck payouts planned for top managers.

by on Jul.26, 2011

Sergio Marchionne hints he'll likely remain CEO of Chrysler after the upcoming management realignment.

Gone are the “days of sin,” when cash was seen as the answer to everything at Chrysler, said CEO Sergio Marchionne, as he answered questions about the maker’s second-quarter loss and dodged others looking at the planned global consolidation of Chrysler and its Italian partner Fiat.

In a wide-ranging discussion, Marchionne made it clear his goal is to “extract value” from the combined Chrysler-Fiat organization by making them work more closely together.  But he cautioned that he does “not want to screw up” Chrysler’s nascent revival – something that could readily happen if it lost focus on what it does best.

Marchionne downplayed concerns about Chrysler’s $181 million second-quarter loss – noting the maker went into the red because of a $551 million charge related to the recent payoff of its federal bailout loans.  (Click Here for more on Chrysler’s earnings.)

“I think we have made great progress,” said the Canadian-educated executive.  “We feel we are on target.”

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In the coming days, Marchionne confirmed he will announce a global realignment that will consolidate key positions in the Chrysler/Fiat alliance, eliminating the current redundancy and creating a more streamlined enterprise that is “ultimately the best way to extract value” for shareholders.  While he declined to provide specifics, the CEO suggested that the move “should show benefits quickly.”


Alfa-Romeo To Play Key Role In Fiat Re-Launch

Half-dozen or more models under consideration for U.S.

by on Aug.31, 2010

The Alfa-Romeo Giulia, shown in concept form at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, will help re-launch the brand in the U.S.

While the spotlight is focusing on the re-launch of the Fiat brand, late this year, another long-absent Italian marque is getting ready to make its own American comeback.

Hundreds of potential dealers were in suburban Detroit, this week, meeting at Chrysler headquarters to discuss plans to roll out the U.S. version of the Fiat 500 microcar, the first of several models Chrysler’s Italian affiliate intends to bring to market.  But at the meeting, sources report, Fiat also provided a road map for the re-introduction of its more upscale Alfa-Romeo brand.

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As many as a half-dozen different sedans, coupes and crossovers are under consideration and could make it to market in the years immediately after Alfa’s return, in 2012.  That’s on top of the various Alfa products that could be used as platforms for Chrysler-branded models.  A revival of the Dodge Viper sports car, for example, is expected to be based on an Alfa offering.


Fiat Cinquecento Prima Edizione Revealed

The special Limited-edition Fiat 500 is reserved for Fiat fans.

by on Jul.12, 2010

Fiat fans place reservations for the First Edition at the Fiat Mobile Experience in Asheville, NC.

Fiat fans attending the annual convention of the Club Fiat-Lancia Unlimited this past weekend were given the chance to place reservations and select their vehicle build number for a Fiat Cinquecento Prima Edizione or First Edition model.

A total of 500 of what Fiat is calling “collector-edition” 500 models will be sold in the United States starting at the end of this year.

The Prima Edizione announcement was made during the national annual convention organized by Club Fiat-Lancia Unlimited, North America’s largest enthusiast club for owners of Fiat Group Automobile vehicles. This year, the convention, also known as the “Fiat Freakout,” was held in Asheville, NC.

Fiat North America was the main sponsor of the annual convention, which featured displays of more than 100 well-preserved Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo vehicles.


Last week Fiat announced that after a 26-year hiatus, it would establish 200 dealerships in the United States managed by existing Chrysler dealers. At first, only the sub-compact 500 will be available. A convertible or cabriole version comes in 2011, followed by an electric version in 2012. Presumably, other Fiat models will follow.


Chrysler to Set Up Separate Fiat Dealer Network

Suggests bigger plans ahead for Italian maker.

by on Jul.05, 2010

Chrysler plans to set up an all-new distribution network to handle the Fiat 500 and other products from its Italian partner.

When the first Fiat-branded products begin making their return to the U.S., late this year, they’ll be sold in a separate network of showrooms, rather than sitting alongside models sold by the Italian maker’s American arm, Chrysler.

It has been more than two decades since the Fiat brand abandoned the U.S. market, and its luxury arm, Alfa-Romeo, has only had a smattering of offerings here since, most recently the limited-edition 8C.  But a key factor in Fiat’s decision to acquire a controlling stake in Chrysler was to use that partnership to re-establish a presence on American soil.

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The first model to launch will be the Fiat 500, a microcar that has won an array of awards in Europe and other parts of the world.  While some of the Italian makers products will serve as a platform for future Chrysler offerings, the Americanized version of what is also known as the Cinquento will retain its Fiat badge.  And now, it seems, it will be the first product to anchor a new line of Fiat showrooms, according to Sergio Marchionne, who serves as CEO for both Chrysler and Fiat.


Fiat Forecasting 20% Drop in Global Sales

Italian maker also rumored in talks with France’s PSA.

by on Jan.22, 2009

Fiat: Falling Flat, Even as it Explores a Second Alliance with PSA?

Fiat: Falling Flat, Even as it Explores a Second Alliance with PSA?

The sky is falling, the sky is falling. How do you say that in Italian? The folks at Chrysler might want to learn, and fast, considering the news out of Turin, this evening.

Chrysler is betting a lot, perhaps its entire future, on the global alliance it announced, earlier this week, with Fiat s.P.a., but after posting one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the industry, earlier this decade, things are suddenly looking a little problematic for the Italian automaker.

The Fiat Group is revealing that its net quarterly profit dropped from 597 million euros to 180 million euros during the last quarter of 2008. The Fiat car division’s revenues dropped 19 per cent over Q4. For the Fiat brand, as well as Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Ferrari and Maserati, revenues during October, November and December were 6.3 billion euros or 8.1 billion dollars, compared with 7.6 billion euros for the fourth quarter of 2007. The car division’s profits fell to 202 million euros, a drop of 44 per cent.

Though there was a bit less of a line waiting for those high-demand Ferrari sports cars, Fiat’s uber-marque continued to set records, but Alfa Romeo, the Fiat brand and Lancia saw sales slip considerably.

The forecast for 2009 is also disturbing, as Fiat expects to see a drop in worldwide sales of 20 percent, with the first quarter likely to be especially difficult. On the Milan stock exchange, after Fiat shares lost 9 per cent, following the announcement, leading to a temporary halt in trading.

Ironically, while Chrysler is struggling to get the U.S. government to continue propping it up, the Italian government seems ready to launch its own bailout program, even though all signs indicate Fiat would be able to make it through a moderately protracted global recession – and come to the aid of its new U.S. partner.

But the trans-Atlantic partnership may be just the beginning of a broader alliance strategy for Fiat, with the Italian media now reporting a second possible alliance, this one teaming Fiat and the French PSA Peugeot Citroën.

Sergio Marchionne: Fiat’s CEO Fixed It Right the First Time

Now he's aiming for an American comeback.

by on Jan.22, 2009

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne

It was little more than the equivalent of a very small, cold slice of corporate pizza, but it was the hot automotive news yesterday. Fiat was working on a alliance that could result in 35% ownership of the struggling U.S. auto company by the Italian company.

Just four, almost five years ago, The Fiat Group, Spa, whose brands include Ferrari, Maserati, Lancia and Alfa Romeo was in probably worse shape than Chrysler. Their Fiat cars were really ugly, the technology was missing, factories were old and tired, management was ineffective and the company was bleeding, according to the Fiat Groups statements, over €1 billion (that’s when the exchange rate was $1.58) in cash.

The Agnelli family, owners of Fiat, brought in Sergio Marichonne, a youthful, 50-something, Italian born but Canadian raised executive of a financial company the family had in interest in as CEO. He had but one order: fix it. And fix it he did! In less than two years, thank you. But the question was – how?

The business success secret he acknowledged in a number of interviews in financial and automotive publications, when he was named business executive on the year in 2007, was based on one word: Focus. Focus on the problems and fix them.